New Report Shows Growing Cost and Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Nation’s Families and Economy

Denver, CO – For the first time, total annual payments for caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias exceeded a quarter trillion dollars ($259 billion) in 2016, according to findings from the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The report was released today by the Alzheimer’s Association.

In Colorado, it is estimated that Medicaid costs topped $526 million for the 69,000 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. By 2025, that Medicaid impact is projected to jump more than 45 percent to more than $764 million.

More than 15 million people provide unpaid care, such as physical, emotional and financial support, for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia. In 2016, Alzheimer’s caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, which the report valued at $230.1 billion.

In Colorado, an estimated 244,000 caregivers provided 277 million hours of unpaid care valued at $3.5 billion.

These contributions disproportionately come from women, who make up two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers. New findings highlighted in the report show that of all dementia caregivers who provided care for more than 40 hours a week, 69 percent are women. Of those providing care to someone with dementia for more than 5 years, 63 percent are women.

The Facts and Figures report also indicates that the strain of caregiving produces serious physical and mental health consequences. For instance, more than one out of three (35 percent) caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared to one out of five (19 percent) caregivers for older people without dementia. Also, depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.

“This report highlights the urgency for us to continue to expand our services to all families across our state, which are provided at no charge,” said Gene Sobczak, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. “This year, we are launching an innovative rural outreach program that will bring needed resources both to people with dementia as well as their caregivers.”

Soaring Cost, Prevalence and Mortality

The Facts and Figures report provides an in-depth look at the latest national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, use and costs of care, caregiving and mortality.

While the report shows that total annual Medicare, Medicaid and other financial assistance for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias surpassed a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion) for the first time, individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias still incurred high out-of-pocket costs in 2016. The average per-person out-of-pocket costs for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher than average per-person payments for seniors without these conditions ($10,315 versus $2,232).

Although deaths from other major causes have decreased, new data from the report shows that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from heart disease decreased 14 percent, while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased 89 percent.

The increase in Alzheimer’s-related deaths in Colorado is even higher: up 92 percent since 2000.

Alzheimer’s by the Numbers: Additional Findings on Prevalence, Incidence and Mortality

  • Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, 5.3 million people are age 65 and older – including 69,000 in Colorado – and approximately 200,000 are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s).
  • Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may nearly triple by 2050 from 5.3 million to 13.8 million.
  • Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s dementia. By mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
  • Approximately 480,000 people, almost half a million, age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s dementia in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Two-thirds of Americans over age 65 with Alzheimer’s dementia (3.3 million) are women.
  • African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Hispanics are 50 percent more likely than whites to be diagnosed.
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth-leading cause of death for those ages 65 and older. In Colorado, 1,364 died from Alzheimer’s in 2014, the most recent figure available.
  • Alzheimer’s remains the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

Cost of Paid and Unpaid Care

  • Total national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $259 billion (excludes unpaid caregiving), of which $175 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone.
  • Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2017 dollars).
  • In Colorado, total Medicaid costs for Americans with dementia age 65 and older are estimated at $526 million for 2017. In the next eight years, that figure is expected to increase 45 percent to $764 million.

“In addition to the information and programs that the Alzheimer’s Association offers specifically for the individual living with dementia, we have a broad spectrum of workshops for caregivers to help them understand the disease and its impact, as well as to help caregivers get the support they need,” said Amelia Schafer, senior director of programs for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. “History shows there is risk that the health of an elderly caregiver can deteriorate even more rapidly than the person with dementia for whom they are caring.”

Full text of the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report can be viewed at alz.org. The report will also appear in the April 2017 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

About 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
The Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report is a comprehensive compilation of national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The report conveys the impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families, government and the nation’s health care system. Since its 2007 inaugural release, the report has become the preeminent source covering the broad spectrum of Alzheimer’s issues. The Facts and Figures report is an official publication of the Alzheimer’s Association.

About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter is the premier source of information and support for the more than 69,000 Coloradans with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and caregivers. Through its statewide network of offices, the Alzheimer’s Association offers education, counseling, support groups and a 24-hour Helpline at no charge to families. In addition, contributions help fund advancements in research to prevent, treat and eventually conquer this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association advocates for those living with Alzheimer’s and their families on related legislative issues, and with health and long-term care providers. For information call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 bilingual Helpline at 800-272-3900, or visit www.alz.org/co.


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